Turkish court rejects appeal for release of HDP’s jailed presidential candidate Demirtaş
A Turkish court rejected an appeal on May 21 for the release of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) former leader and presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş, the party said, a month before snap parliamentary and presidential elections.
Demirtaş, who has been in jail for a year and a half on security charges and faces a jail sentence of up to 142 years if convicted, was nominated by the HDP as a presidential candidate earlier this month.
Last week, the HDP applied for Demirtaş’s release before next month’s snap election, saying his detention jeopardized voter freedom.
Turkey’s High Electoral Board has approved his candidacy and Demirtaş is running his presidential campaign from behind bars.
“We condemn this lawless decision which prevents an equal and fair election. Every day that Demirtaş, the candidate of millions, is not with his voters will cast a shadow on the June 24 elections and put into question its legitimacy,” the HDP said on Twitter.
A former human rights lawyer, Demirtaş is one of Turkey’s best-known politicians, winning votes beyond his core Kurdish constituency in 2015 elections. Prosecutors charge that he and hundreds of other detained HDP members are tied to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
HDP nominated Ahmet Şık, a prominent journalist and author who was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison over terrorism charges last month, and Barış Atay, an actor and outspoken critic of Erdoğan’s policies.